As to my background and credentials as editor of this publication: I began my career as a sports journalist, where I worked closely with Sports Illustrated, and later as a reporter at the Cincinnati Enquirer and as Weekend Night Sports Editor for the Cincinnati Post. I moved on to work as a copywriter in the marketing department at Union Central Life, then one of the top 50 insurance companies in the US. My next stint was as a Marketing Manager for KDI Corporation, a high-tech A&D conglomerate. From there I served for a couple of years as a writer and account executive at a promotion agency, working for Champion Spark Plugs, Owens-Corning and Jeep. I did a stint as editor of an international trade magazine and then made the jump to marketing management at a chemical company, and later at NuTone, a manufacturer of home building products. That’s when I made the big jump, opening a sales promotion agency with partners Richard Blumberg and Barron Krody. Over the next two decades we built the agency up to one of the 50 largest in the US, serving Procter & Gamble, Toshiba, Florida Power & Light, 3M, Imation, Quaker State, Pillsbury, St. Paul Insurance, among others. I sold the agency to join Cincom Systems — the oldest software company still in existence — where I worked with a phenomenal group of marketers as Marketing Director for Manufacturing Customer Strategies and to manage marketing programs with Microsoft Dynamics, our primary business partner . I retired from Cincom at the end of 2015 to put renewed focus on this online magazine.

Software as an Experience

Over at the Gilbane Group blog, there is a good discussion on how enterprise search impacts customer experience, particularly for Software as a Service vendors. Good advice for SaaS, but actually good advice for any software purchase. These are many of the areas in which Cincom does its best to deliver in a quality manner … it is the heart of delivering a great software experience. So I pass them along for your consideration.

Here is Gilbane’s list of vendor weaknesses:

  • Lack of understanding by company representative how their software works
  • Failure to really understand prospect needs, environments, and requirements
  • Poorly written documentation and training giving no context for how the software might be deployed
  • Technically sophisticated features delivered with no coherent path to deployment Inability to communicate honestly with clients
  • Lack of clarity on what industry standards and terminology mean to clients
  • Failure to use their own products by all employees in vendor organizationsInattention to building quality support infrastructures to service clients

Largely all these common failure points emanate from the first bullet in the list — not understanding, or even worse, never taking the time to understand the customer’s needs, wants and aspirations. Too often software is designed in a vacuum and then after a couple of hundred thousands of lines of code and a big investment in marketing, the software vendor discovers that customers just don’t care about the solution. Or for those who actually purchase such software (on premise or on demand) there is a resultant bad, bad experience … a gap between the promise and the reality.

TeaLeaf Improves Customer Experience for Haven Holidays

TeaLeaf has been adopted by Haven Holidays, the UK’s largest caravan holiday operator, to ensure that its new website offers potential holiday goers the optimal online customer experience by making its search facility and booking process is easy to use as.

Haven Holidays’ website, which attracts up to 25,000 visitors a day, is due to be re-launched this month. TeaLeaf will be instrumental in highlighting potential usability problems before they reach the customer and will help to identify the most profitable routes to conversion. TeaLeaf will also play a key role in Haven Holidays’ customer online support service by enabling customer support representatives to retrieve the online session of any visitor and use it to offer real-time support with the customer throughout their journey, assisting with any problems or queries that may have arisen.

Contact Center Market Growth Surpasses Estimates

TelecomWeb’s new InfoTrack for Converged Applications "First-Half 2006 Contact Center Report" says global contact-center shipments for that period yielded worldwide manufacturer revenues of $1.45 billion, with agent-seat shipments (new and add-on) approaching 1.6 million.

This growth exceeds TelecomWeb’s previous forecast as well as those made by others. The North American market (United States and Canada) continues to be the major source of industry volume, with agent-seat shipments (new and add-on) of slightly fewer than 700,000 for the first half of 2006, annualized to 1.4 million per year and first-half 2006 revenues of $663 million, annualized to more than $1.3 billion per year. Volume already has exceeded the 2004 Frost & Sullivan forecast that the North American market would hit $1.25 billion by 2011.

Gartner: Technology Not Keeping Pace with Customer Experience

Collaboration between the lines of business and IT to drive growth through improved service will be one of the top 10 areas of investment and process change in 2007. The vast majority of contact that a customer has with a business or government involves customer service or support.

The head of sales knows this — and so does the head of marketing. However, it is only recently that the CEO has become convinced that the IT tools exist that can integrate these points of customer interaction and deliver results. CEOs now insist that IT do something about it. IT is on "the hook" to enable that growth, with little business experience and no increase in budget, according to the Gartner EXP CIO Survey 2006.

Re-architecting the major application suite providers’ platforms will delay the adoption of their next generation of customer service contact center products until the first half of 2008.

Steve Jobs: Master of Customer Experience Ends 2+ Year Wait for iPhone


How is it that Apple always seems to know exactly what kind of experience their customers are looking for. While other technology companies build products , Apple builds experiences. And the world falls in love with them. The Mac, then iTunes and iPods and now …

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said, "I have been looking forward to this for two and a half years," followed that with "Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone," and then proceeded to introduce the iPhone, which he called a leapfrog product that is much smarter than the previous generation of mobile phones, combining the iPod, mobile phone, 2-megapixel camera and an Internet communicator in one device.

According to an article by Don Farber at ZDnet,Iphone_closeup based on Jobs’ demo of the iPhone, Apple has once again set the bar for others to follow, and they are far behind. Jobs said Apple is five years ahead of competitors with its software, and he is not that far off. Microsoft certainly has a lot to learn from Apple once again in creating usable operating systems and user interfaces. If the iPhone works as good as Jobs’ demo, it will be a hit product.

With a 3.5-inch, 160-pixel per inch patented touch screen, the iPhone solves the user interface problem according to Jobs, making the rigid keys of mobile phones antiquated. Instead of being forced into using the hard keyboard for every application, the touch screen enables the interface to fit the application. Jobs dissed styluses as not being that useful and too easy to lose, but the first ad-on will be a stylus, especially for using the soft keypad. 

Iphone_in_hand The touching and scrolling user interface for accessing music and other applications is super slick, with all the nice effects from OS X graphics. "The software at least five years ahead of others," Jobs said. iTunes is used synch all media  and data, such as contacts and calendar, to iPhone.

The killer app for the phone is making calls, Jobs said. The phone includes, contacts, calendar, visual voice mail, SMS messaging and quad band GSM + Edge, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The software enable multiple SMS messaging sessions at once.

Virtual Contact Centers fit Small Business

Given the pressures of competition and business owners’ need for cost effective growth strategies, home-based customer service and virtual call center operations provide a new way for small businesses to improve productivity and manage costs, without sacrificing quality. The home-based services market in this country is growing rapidly and small business is quickly realizing the benefits of sending customer service jobs home.

So just how does virtual servicing work? A virtual contact center is a network of dispersed agents, based in home offices, interconnected by an advanced technology network which enables them to deliver high-touch customer care more efficiently and up to an estimated 20 percent more productively than agents based in traditional call centers.


Don’t let the name fool you. This blogger has some very interesting takes on the business of CRM. One of the recent postings, from Thursday, October 12 states, “… a niche market of CEM providers in the SaaS milieu has emerged, with smaller firms such as Portrait Software and Cincom seeking to fill the gap. What’s nice about CEM firms, too, is that they often can specialize. Portrait, for example, works with banks …” Check out the entire article and the rest of the blog at lowdown on CEM – part 2.

Can CRM Systems Support the Sales Warriors?

On his way to challenging the very foundation of many of today’s CRM systems, Louis Columbus builds his rationale from three observations about the most successful sales warriors he’s worked with at Cincom and at former companies he has worked for or consulted with.

In watching the best salespeople work, here is what becomes apparent: (1) Relationships rule over process. (2) The best salespeople have simple, manual systems that have relationships in the center, not just transactions. (3) Integration rules.

Louis, you are smack on. I suspect at the base level somewhere this is one of the unintended mis-firings of many failed CRM implementations. The same could be said for creating "marketing warriors."

The marketing and sales professions are blurring as marketers now have 1:1 marketing strategies that communicate to prospects and customers at the individual customer level — simulating what a sales rep does in the field. This calls for greater and greater coordination between marketing and sales, and a sense of shared ownership in the success of winning trust with customers and moving those customers step-by-step into a positive relationship.

In the end, the key measures are not "transactions." Instead, they are on softer attributes that govern a personal relationship and build on contextual relevance. CRM systems are not yet good at detecting and managing these personalization attributes, so it often takes brute force by marketers and salespeople to create and grow such relationships.